Outrage after men found guilty of sexual abuse not rape as victim was ‘unconscious’

Spanish writer condemns sentence as ‘the height of judicial indecency’

Zamira Rahim@ZamiraRahim
Friday 01 November 2019 14:11
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The men were sentenced at the Barcelona High Court on Thursday.
The men were sentenced at the Barcelona High Court on Thursday.

Five men accused of gang raping a 14-year-old girl have been acquitted of sexual assault because the victim was in an “unconscious state”.

The men were instead found guilty of sexually abusing the child during a drinking session, known in Spanish as a botellon, at an abandoned factory in the town of Manresa.

The Barcelona High Court’s ruling has triggered fury in Spain.

Sexual assault under Spanish law is the equivalent of rape and carries a prison sentence of between 15 and 20 years. Sexual abuse is considered a lesser crime.

Prosecutors told the court that six men took turns to abuse the child on 29 October 2016.

The court heard the girl was under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time.

One of the group, named in court as Bryan Andres, is said to have said to each of the men: “It’s your turn. Fifteen minutes each and no delay.”

The public prosecutor had called for the defendants to be charged with sexual assault.

But on Thursday, the court ruled that the men did not commit sexual assault, according to El Pais.

The court said the crimes did not amount to the more serious charge as the victim was in “an unconscious state”,

It added that the child “did not know what she was and wasn’t doing, and consequently, did not have the ability to agree to or oppose the sexual relations most of the defendants had with her.”

The court also ruled that the more serious crime was not committed as the defendants “were able to commit sexual acts without using any type of violence or intimidation”.

Violence and intimidation are required for the crime of sexual assault under Spanish law.

All six men were acquitted of sexual assault.​

Instead the five men were convicted of sexual abuse of a minor. Two of the five were also convicted of continuous sexual abuse of a minor.

Each received a 10 to 12 year prison sentence.

Two more men, who attended the party at which the abuse took place, were acquitted of all crimes.

The victim previously told the court that one of the men had a gun and that she had very little memory of what occurred.

The schoolgirl, now aged 17, wept throughout her testimony in July 2019, as she said she could only recall flashes of the encounter.

“It hurt, I don’t remember any more,” she said of one abusive encounter.

“In another flash, I am crying and someone with glasses is on top of me,” she told the court.

She said a friend later told her that “the six men had penetrated me and I was crying.”

A female witness told the court that when she went into the room, the men, aged 18 to 21, were standing around without trousers on.

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Senior politicians have condemned the verdict.

“Another outrageous sentence,” said Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona.

“[The judge] doesn’t want to understand that only YES is YES,” she said on Twitter.

“An unconscious 14-year-girl was raped in a group. I am not a judge and I do not know how many years in prisons they deserve, what I do know is that it is not abuse, it rape!”

Eva Piquer, a Spanish writer, described the verdict as “the height of judicial indecency”.

The victim was awarded 12,000 euros (£10,300) in damages.

The court ruled “the attack on the victim’s sexual integrity was extremely severe and especially denigrating and what’s more, was against a minor in a situation of distress.”

People in Spain have dubbed the abusers the “wolf pack of Manresa” due to the case’s similarity with the La Manada “wolf pack” rape trial.

The La Manada case, centred on a 2016 gang attack on a teenager, led to nationwide protests and an ongoing review of the country’s rape laws.

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